Mannimarco Will Rise, and Tamriel Will Fall…
As far back as Morrowind, fans of Bethesda's incredible The Elder Scrolls series have been clamoring for an online component of some sort - some kind of multiplayer offering to round out their experience of Tamriel. Sadly, in spite of how richly storied and unique the world Bethesda built was, the game's storyline never really lent itself all that well to multiplayer. You can't really have two Dragonborns, and there's only one Nerevarine, after all. Still, it's something we've wanted for a long, long time.
What I'm most excited about thus far is the promise that The Elder Scrolls Online isn't going to have the typical MMO combat system, nor is it going to lend itself to the typical click-and-wait combat system that's defined World of Warcraft and all the WoW clones that have flooded the market. Instead, it sounds as though they're going to basically be porting Skyrim's combat into a multiplayer setting, and it'll all be real time.
The Elder Scrolls Online players will have three basic stats: health, mana, and stamina, and each class will have a different balance of these. There will be some moves mapped to a toolbar at the bottom of the screen (I guess they can't leave every MMO element at home), and there'll be cooldowns on abilities, battles will reward positioning, timing, and skill. The idea is for battle to actually feel like battle, rather than just "point, click, click, kill".
Enemies will simulate character builds, and they will work together to bring down the players. As for quests, Matt Firor, ESO's game director, has promised that they're going to be much richer than your typical MMO fare. TES Online quests will sort of just pop up as you wander about the world, and grant you rewards and items without really having to turn them in.
Set 1,000 years before Skyrim, The Elder Scrolls Online covers the time period from the Oblivion Crisis up to the Empire's final defeat at the hands of the Aldmeri Dominion. It's completely open-world, and it will feature pretty much every location ever covered by an Elder Scrolls title. The Empire is in shambles, and everyone's bickering over who should sit on the throne. Remember how the last Emperor turned into a dragon and died? It's a long story.
Speaking of the Empire, The Elder Scrolls Online features some rather brilliant touches to that end. Players are divided up into three factions, based on what race they've chosen: The Aldmeri Dominion (precursor to one of the big bads from Skyrim) is comprised of the Altmer, Khajit, and Bosmer in the south. The Redguards, Orcs, and Bretons are the Daggerfall Covenant. Finally, the Ebonheart Pact consists of Dark Elves, Nords, and Argonians. Whichever faction happens to hold the most land at any given point can crown one of their players Emperor. No word yet on what bonuses this gives… but they'll probably be sweet.
The war over the Cyrodiilic throne isn't the only concern, naturally- the residents of Cyrodiil, beset on all sides, have made a pact with Molag Bal, the Daedric Prince of Domination and Enslavement (not sure why they believed that one to be a good idea). He's raised an army of undead to help "protect" the populace. Mannimarco, King of Worms, seems to be his general. Yeah, the guy just doesn't want to stay dead, does he?
Oh, Molag Bal also stole your soul. So…basically, everything's going right to hell in a handbasket, as the whole world squabbles over who gets to rule a disintegrating empire. Nice, right?
In terms of player interactions, PVP can be anything from small skirmishes to massive sieges. There'll be dungeons in TES Online, as well: group instances, in-game raids, and public dungeons where your best chance at survival will be to ask others for help.
So far, the game is looking rather awesome, although there are a few stumbling points which might fill fans of the series as a whole with doubt. First, The Elder Scrolls Online is entirely third-person. Second, the art direction of the elves makes them look more like general high fantasy elves, and less like actual Tamrielic Elves. Third, there's still the lingering doubt that the typical MMO mechanics that have become so trying might just creep back into the game, in spite of how much they're trying to distance themselves.
Still, I like what I've seen so far, and I'm certain I'm not the only one. You'll know more about The Elder Scrolls Online as soon as we do.
A gamer at heart, Nick started writing when he was a child. He holds a BA in English, works as a freelancer, and loves every minute of it. One day, he hopes to net himself a career in game design - but that's something for the future.
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